Monday, October 25, 2010

The Jerusalem Light Railway. Just look at those ugly overhead cables!

Jerusalem "Chords" bridge. Built for the Light Railway

This week they started test runs for the new Jerusalem Light Railway outside my office building. I thought it would be interesting to take some photos now so that we could look back on them in a few years and see what the Jerusalem Bus Station area looked like whilst building was going on. Some of these photos I took back in March. Others this week.

Early Sunday morning I managed to snap a photo of two trains in the semi-built station. The sun was shining directly in towards me so the photo is a bit dim. However, when I returned later that morning the trains had disappeared so this is the only snap of them I have.

This sideways shot of the new trains was taken from the Wikipedia article.

The entrance to the "Chords" Bridge was full of building materials on the floor back in March. Now it's greatly tidied up. They've also completed the erection of the overhead powerline cables.

March 2010

October 2010. Now with the overhead powerline cables.

At the moment there is a make shift fence surrounding the building site with passing places every few meters.

I just love this Warning sign.

Click on the photo in order to read it.

I wonder why London Transport don't have similer warnings signs? Maybe they should announce it over the Tannoy?
"This is a London Transport announcement.
Please do not touch the powerlines. You'll get fried!
Passengers are reminded not jump in front of the approaching trains. It causes a terrible mess. The next train approaching in Hainault Via Newbury Park. Please mind the gap..."

UPDATE: Actually, the warning signs may well be justified after all - due to the fact that these trains are almost totally silent! (The same cannot be said for London's tubes). I just popped out 30 mins ago and saw two trains sitting there outside my office. They must have arrived from over the bridge within the last hour or so. I asked a friend who's window overlooks the main street and he said that he hadn't heard a thing despite his window being open. That silence and the fact that the trains are running across main roads and pavements makes me quite concerned now. How on earth are the hard of hearing and visually impaired going to cope with crossing the tracks? Moreover, I estimate that some 20% of pedestrians walk around with headphones in their ears the whole time.

Below are some shots of the new "Central Bus Station" train station which clearly show digital displays under each passenger shelter, presumably to notify us when the next train will be.

I think the trains look pretty cool but I am dismayed at the ugliness and potential dangers of the overhead powerline cables.

The above shot was taken with my back to the bridge, facing the Central Bus Station. Just look at all those overhead cables !!!

Is this really the best train technology there is in the 21st century? I am quite frankly shocked and aghast at the sight of all these cables. Nothing much has changed it seems since they removed the old trams from London's roads in the 1930s
On the right. A London tram, running on rails. On the left, the (what was then) "new" hi-tech Trolley bus. Free of tracks but still using overhead power cables

I'm sure that Londoners were very happy to see the removal of those cables from their streets when they replaced the trams with buses.

After the overhead powerline cables were removed from London's streets.

Surely there must be a modern Light Rail system that does not use these obtrusive and ugly cables? I know that in many cities around the world where underground rail systems such as those found in London or Paris are not appropriate, they have built space age looking monorail systems.
Apparently though, monorail systems are more expensive than light rail systems and less flexible. For instance, its easier creating new stations with a Light Rail system. I don't think there can be any argument though that a Monorail system is far more aesthetic with its high rised futuristic looking beams. Another thing. They are much safer! No one is going to accidentily get run over by a monorail train are they!
The Monorail in Las Vegas, USA

Kuala Lumpur, Malyasia

BTW, the first line is scheduled to open around April 2011.

Jerusalem Light Rail Line 1
Over the past 10 years or so, the Bezek phone company have invested considerable time and effort in removing most of the overhead telephone cables from our streets. Now it seems the Light Railway is putting all the cables back again! I simply don't understand what they were thinking when they approved this project to smother Yerushalayim with overhead powerline cables?


Anonymous said...

Back in the 1940's we had a trolly line near our home. The best thing about it was that we could it use to flatten copper pennies by having the trolly car run over them on the tracks. It was removedin the 1950's.

David K.

Bouncer said...

I understand that the JLR's design is based (originally) on the Manchester Light Railway system, which entered service in the mid 70s.
In principle, it should be possible to deliver power through induction coils buried under the tracks (I am not referring here to linear induction MAGLEV technology used in monorails). The engineering principles of induction power are now pretty mature, so I expect the reasons for adopting the overhead cable (catenary) power delivery option are basically logistical and the fact that the design and planning for the JLR was frozen over a decade ago.

It must be pretty scary to have a 300 ton train creep up upon you unawares. The silent engine problem has cropped up also in th automotive industry (e.g., in hybrid engine vehicles). Pedestrian fatalities have been attributed to silent cars and several auto companies are now making their hybrid engines artificially noisy.

Tamara said...

You've done a lot of research and brought to light a myriad problems.
Personally, I loathed the whole idea when it was first mooted.
That it is claimed to be so near completion puzzles me and i truly worry about the effect on the public and on Jerusalem.
Gawd! What a mess!

Anonymous said...

We've had streetcars in Boston going back to the 1800's and they've worked out phenomenally especially in the metro-west areas west of downtown. Most silent streetcars come with an artificial whirr that signals the wheel bases are beginning to be in motion (look up youtube for the Breda signature system) so that pedestrians know when a tram is moving.

Boston, like Jerusalem, has a lot of pedestrians, cars, and cyclists who blatantly ignore signals and rules and go wherever and whenever they want and our fatality rate from streetcar related problems is relatively low. By contrast, our biggest problems stem more from summer time road construction that people get frustrated with.

Good to see that Jerusalem is doing something to take some pedestrians off the main roads and improve public transit for everyone including tourists- should make the city more accessible.